Poll reveals Muslims as model citizens

Contrary to popular stereotypes, Muslims in London have almost twice as much confidence in the Government as the general public and are noticeably more trusting of the judicial system, elections and the police. More than half identify very strongly with Britain, and about four in every five believe that it is important for integration to master the English language, get a better education and find a job. The findings, to be revealed tomorrow, are the result of an independent survey of Muslim attitudes by the Gallup Organisation, and point to a much more hopeful outlook for integration than recent reports of extremism, alienation and a ghetto mentality have suggested.

Muslim face veil banned in Quebec vote

Muslim women will have to remove their face coverings if they want to vote in upcoming elections in Quebec, a government official said Friday, reversing his earlier decision to allow the veils. Marcel Blanchet, the French-speaking province’s election chief, had been criticized by Quebec’s three main political leaders for allowing voters to wear the niqab, which covers the entire face except for the eyes, if they signed a sworn statement and showed identification when they vote. But Blanchet reversed his earlier decision Friday, saying it was necessary to avoid disruptions when residents go to the polls. “Relevant articles to electoral laws were modified to add the following: any person showing up at a polling station must be uncovered to exercise the right to vote,” he said. Blanchet had to get two bodyguards after the Quebec elections office received threatening phone calls and e-mails following his initial decision to allow niqabs. He said some residents had threatened to protest Monday’s vote by showing up at polling stations wearing masks. The reversal was condemned by Muslims groups who said it could turn their members away from the polls. “I am so saddened, I doubt many of these women will show up at the polls on Monday after all this mockery,” said Sarah Elgazzar of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. Many European countries are also grappling with the issue of Muslim veils. In Britain, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw caused a stir last year when he said he wanted Muslim women to abandon the full-face veil, while a Muslim teaching assistant in northern England was suspended from her job for refusing to remove one. France passed a law in 2004 banning Islamic head scarves in schools, and the Netherlands has announced plans for one banning full-length veils in public places. Germany also has a law banning teachers in public schools from wearing head scarves. Last week in Quebec, a young Muslim woman was forced to quit her job at a prison after she refused to remove her headscarf. The public security department supported the decision, citing security concerns, but Muslim groups pointed out that the Canadian Armed Forces allow women to wear headscarves on active duty. Last month, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario participating in a soccer tournament in Quebec was pulled from the field after she refused the referee’s request to remove her headscarf.

Dutch Minister Loses Party Leadership Vote

By TOBY STERLING AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — The Dutch immigration minister who set off a political firestorm by threatening to revoke the citizenship of a Somali-born lawmaker lost a party leadership contest Wednesday seen as a referendum on the country’s tough immigration policies. The hardline minister Rita Verdonk caused the political downfall of lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the country’s most outspoken critic of fundamentalist Islam. Hirsi Ali became internationally known when Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in November 2004 by a Muslim radical incensed by the short film “Submission,” a critique of the treatment of women under Islam which she wrote the script for. Verdonk was the front-runner in the contest to lead the free-market VVD party into elections next year until she threatened earlier this month to revoke Hirsi Ali’s passport. Hirsi Ali — also a member of the VVD — quit after Verdonk said her naturalization was invalid because she gave a false name when she moved to the Netherlands in 1992. Hirsi Ali, 36, has acknowledged her real name was Ayaan Hirsi Magan, and said she fabricated her name because she feared reprisals from her family after fleeing an arranged marriage. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende conceded Wednesday that her resignation had damaged the Netherlands’ reputation as a haven of tolerance. “Everything that’s happened has brought negative publicity,” Balkenende said at a lunch with the Dutch foreign press association. “I read the international papers too, but the question is, will it have a lasting effect? I believe not.” Verdonk was defeated by the more moderate Mark Rutte in the party primary. She retains her cabinet post. Rutte won 51 percent of votes, while Verdonk got 46 percent, the party said. Many prominent members of the VVD, including EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, shifted their support from Verdonk to Rutte after the Hirsi Ali affair. A former deputy prison warden, Verdonk built her reputation as a strict enforcer of the country’s immigration policies, among the toughest in Europe. Since taking office in 2003, Verdonk has ordered citizenship classes and tests for immigrants, raised visa fees by hundreds of dollars and began imprisoning rejected asylum-seekers before deporting them. As a result, immigration is half what it was in 2000. Verdonk, 50, had in the past benefited in the polls from decisions similar to the one on Hirsi Ali. She denied citizenship to an Ivory Coast-born soccer player Salomon Kalou, and deporting a young refugee from Kosovo just a month before she was due to graduate from Dutch high school. But after Hirsi Ali’s resignation, Verdonk was skewered in a 10-hour emergency debate in parliament, in which she was criticized by all sides for acting too hastily. Verdonk was forced to review Hirsi Ali’s case, and agree to reprocess her naturalization under her true name if necessary. Hirsi Ali continues to live in her apartment in The Hague under police protection because of threats to her life from radicals. She is unable to speak in public while her immigration case is under review and plans to move to the United States to join The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Rutte, 39, will now stand in national elections next May, with an outside chance of becoming prime minister as leader of the country’s third-largest party.

Muslims And Labour Vote

The word “ethnic” is misused in the article below. We talk about metropolitan districts with large “ethnic communities”. The Guardian style guide says: “Neversay ethnic when you mean ethnic minority. It leads to such nonsense as the constituency has a small ethnic population.” Tony Blair’s hopes of patching up relations with the Muslim community have been dealt a fresh blow by a leading Islamic organisation which is urging its members not to vote Labour at next week’s European elections.

Founder Of The PCP Steps Down

Jean-Fran_ois Bastin, (alias Abdullah Abu Abdulaziz) the founder of the “Parti Citoyennet_ et Prosp_rit_” which received in the elections in May 2003 more than 8000 votes, resigned from its current position of the Party leader. The official reason of his resignation is ‘the doctrinal reorientation of the Party’. His name will not appear on the election lists in the coming regional elections in June. Sheikh Bastin claims that his departure from the Party has nothing to do with the accusation of his son Muhammed el Amin Bastin of involvement in the terrorist attacks in Turkey in November 2003. The new leader of the PCP becomes imam Bassam Ayachi, who is the administrator of the website assabyle.com.